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Articles from DIAMOND JEWELLERY (845 Articles), DIAMONDS BY TYPE - SYNTHETIC / LAB-CREATED (97 Articles), DIAMOND SUPPLIES - TESTING EQUIPMENT (11 Articles)











Michael Hill changes website, removes diamond claims

High profile jewellery retailer Michael Hill International (MHI) has responded to reports that its lab-created diamond marketing materials could mislead consumers.

The company recently launched a collection of synthetic (lab-created) diamond engagement rings in 23 stores across Australia, New Zealand and Canada, as well as online.

However, the terminology used to describe the stones – manufactured for MHI by US-based Fenix Diamonds – on the company’s website and social media channels did not conform to industry standards.

At various times the MHI website, marketing material and Facebook pages stated that the stones are “not synthetic” and described them as “real diamonds” and “the real deal”.

Following Jeweller’s report last week that these descriptions of the lab-created diamond rings could, in some cases, contravene government guidelines designed to protect consumers, MHI made several changes to its website.

In the website’s ‘Knowledge & Advice’ section, the description “not synthetic” was removed, while an image of a 12-page consumer information brochure about the range was also quickly removed, along with the link to download the document.

"Our test and learn approach [to marketing] means that we will continually evolve and improve our marketing communication materials about laboratory-grown diamonds too”
Michael Hill spokesperson

Another statement in the Knowledge & Advice section, which originally read, “Why a created diamond? They are an authentic alternative,” has since been changed to, “Why a laboratory-created diamond? They are a quality alternative.”

The changes are important because, according to the rules of CIBJO – the international jewellery confederation – terms such as ‘real’, ‘genuine’, ‘precious’ and ‘authentic’ should not be used as descriptors for synthetic diamonds.

Other governing bodies including the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), of which MHI is a member, also rule that man-made diamonds should not be described as ‘real’ or ‘genuine’ and should always be “disclosed as ‘laboratory created’, ‘laboratory grown’ and/or ‘synthetic’”.

The website’s original introduction to the new engagement ring collection stated: “Introducing the next step in the evolution of diamond jewellery. Fenix Created Diamonds are genuine and certified diamonds, crafted in fine jewellery – a lasting treasure.”

In order to comply with internationally accepted man-made diamond nomenclature, it now reads: “Introducing the next step in the evolution of diamond jewellery. Fenix Laboratory-Created Diamonds are high quality certified diamonds, crafted in fine jewellery – a lasting treasure.”

A number of other changes have been made throughout the section called: “Laboratory-Created Diamonds FAQ”.

The recent alterations and the removal of the brochure followed previous changes to the website, which occurred when Jeweller first made contact with MHI concerning its potentially misleading marketing.

Ahead of the publication of last week’s story, the company removed the following information: “Fenix does not create diamonds, but rather creates the conditions that allow diamonds to grow just as they do under the Earth’s surface” (removed text emphasised).

Michael Hill responds
When Jeweller contacted MHI a second time concerning the various marketing claims and consumer information, a company spokesperson said the retail chain has “a heritage of disrupting the market for more than 40 years” and claimed to be the first major Australian and New Zealand jeweller to launch lab-created diamonds. 

Answering questions about its use of terms such as ‘real’, genuine’ and ‘not synthetic’ in its consumer information, the spokesperson said: “As we work towards establishing a new category of diamonds in Australia, we are also keen to engage across the industry with peak bodies as they evolve and refine the accepted terminology for describing laboratory-created diamonds.”

Last week’s story referred to a media release which quoted company CEO Daniel Bracken describing the new collection: “Fenix Created Diamonds for Michael Hill are genuine, real diamonds set to provide customers even more choice when selecting the perfect diamond.”

This description would appear to contradict international standards concerning man-made diamonds.

Background reading: Great Diamond Debate - Natural vs Synthetic

However, the MHI spokesperson said, “The central tenet of our marketing effort is to ensure that we inform customers about their choices. Michael Hill has always sought to be transparent to the market and to show customers very clearly the process by which laboratory-created diamonds are made.”

The spokeperson pointed to online marketing material that shows Fenix synthetic diamonds are created in a laboratory, including diagrams and a video.

“Naturally, we work to ensure that our website is constantly updated with new products and to reflect new information. Our test and learn approach means that we will continually evolve and improve our marketing communication materials about laboratory-grown diamonds too,” the spokesperson added.

When questioned about MHI’s membership of the RJC and that organisation’s rules about synthetic diamond nomenclature, the spokesperson advised, “Michael Hill is following guidelines set out by the FTC [the US Federal Trade Commission] and RJC regarding utilising the terms ‘laboratory-created’ or ‘laboratory-grown’.”

The spokesperson avoided the specific question about the stones being “not synthetic” and, when pushed, later added, “We try to avoid using the terms ‘synthetic‘ or ’non-synthetic‘ as we don’t think either helps customers better understand the product. This position appears to be consistent with the approach taken by the FTC in the US.”

Jeweller has contacted the London–based RJC concerning the actions of its member and, at the time of publication, an official response was being prepared.

The MHI spokesperson said, “We maintain regular contact with the Responsible Jewellery Council and will always engage proactively with them to ensure that our business acts in accordance with their Code of Conduct.”

Jeweller also sought comment from the Jewellers Association of Australia (JAA) regarding MHI’s compliance with Australian standards; however, at the time of publication the JAA had not responded.

 

Michael hill's website: Before & After

<b>BEFORE</b> - Michael Hill
BEFORE - Michael Hill's website before making changes to the way it describes man-made diamonds.

<b>AFTER</b> – Following <i>Jeweller’s</i> investigation into its marketing activities, Michael Hill changed some consumer information.
AFTER – Following Jeweller’s investigation into its marketing activities, Michael Hill changed some consumer information.

 

Michael Hill's Facebook Page: Currently live

Examples of Michael Hill staff telling consumers on Facebook its new lab-created diamond engagement rings are "real".
Examples of Michael Hill staff telling consumers on Facebook its new lab-created diamond engagement rings are "real".

Fenix Diamonds are the “real deal” and are “not a simulant or synthetic”!
Fenix Diamonds are the “real deal” and are “not a simulant or synthetic”!

 

More reading:
Michael Hill’s lab-grown diamond marketing may mislead consumers
Michael Hill launches lab-grown diamond rings
Michael Hill looks for turnaround, introduces lab-grown diamonds

Background reading: 
The Great Diamond Debate - Natural vs Synthetic











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Monday, 16 December, 2019 12:37am
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